Poor play by Ben Gordon is one of the reasons the Chicago Bulls have continued to struggle in Sacramento. That certainly doesn't mean they wouldn't be happy to see their leading scorer on the court at Arco Arena.
With Gordon perhaps ready to play for the first time in six games, the Bulls will try and snap an eight-game road losing streak to the surging Kings when the teams conclude their season series on Saturday night.
Gordon has missed five straight games with a sprained right wrist, and Chicago (18-27) has gone 2-3 in that span. But the fourth-year guard could be in uniform for this game, according to the Bulls' official Web site.
Gordon is averaging 19.6 points in 40 games for Chicago this season, but has been held to a total of 11 in three career contests in Sacramento. The Bulls haven't won at Arco since a 103-88 victory on Nov. 23, 1997, averaging 85.3 points in eight losses there since.
On Jan. 5, however, Gordon had 20 points to lead the Bulls to a 94-93 win over Sacramento (21-24) in Chicago.
Even if Gordon plays, the Bulls - coming off an 83-67 loss to lowly Minnesota on Wednesday night - have a tough challenge against a Kings team that is beginning to jell now that it is finally healthy.
Sacramento has won three straight and nine of 13, including a 112-103 win over Southwest Division-leading New Orleans on Friday night.
Ron Artest scored 24 points, Kevin Martin added 22 and Mike Bibby finished with 15 points and seven assists for the Kings. All three of those players have missed time due to injuries, but have played together in nine straight games, beating two first-place teams during that stretch - Sacramento defeated Central-leading Detroit on Jan. 18.
"We've been together basically for two weeks," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "We can draw from these two weeks and the period of getting together. I think this is the way we should be playing in terms of our talent base."
Chicago, meanwhile, is far from healthy. Getting Gordon back would be a good start, but Luol Deng has missed more than a week due to an injured left Achilles' tendon and Joe Smith has missed two straight games with flu-like symptoms.
Smith's status for Friday's game is uncertain. If he can't play again, rookie Joakim Noah will get his third straight start.
A preseason favorite to win the Central, Chicago can only hope for a Kings-like resurgence once they're healthier.
"It would be nice (to get into playoff contention)," Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich said. "It's kind of been a mysterious season so far, having one good game and following it up with a bad one. It's hard to gain any ground when you do that."
Hinrich has gotten into a rhythm on offense since Gordon was hurt, averaging 24.8 points in his last five games.
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